What is the 10th Amendment and why is it mentioned in federal vaccine mandate rulings?

Two federal judges have cited the 10th Amendment as part of the reason for their rulings that paused multiple federal vaccine mandates issued across the U.S.

But, what does the 10th Amendment say and how do the judge believe the mandates are impacted.

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The 10th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution says:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The rulings say:

U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty said in his Tuesday ruling to issue an injunction that halts the federal CMS vaccine mandate that “in a federal system, the federal government has limited powers. The States and the people retain the remainder.”

“The state’s have broad authority to enact legislation for the public good (”police power”), but the federal government has no such authority, and can only exercise the powers granted to it, including the power to make all laws which may be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the enumerated powers,” Doughty wrote.

A second ruling, this time in U.S. District Court in Kentucky, halted the federal vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors.

“The Court is also concerned that the vaccine mandate intrudes on an area that is traditionally reserved to the States,” said U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove. “On the record currently before the Court, there is a serious concern that Defendants have stepped into an area traditionally reserved to the States, and this provides an additional reason to temporarily enjoin the vaccine mandate.”

What happens next?

The various cases surrounding the vaccine mandates will likely lead to the U.S. Supreme Court getting involved in some way, according to Mark Caleb Smith, Director of the Center for Political Studies at Cedarville University.

“We are seeing more rulings take place every day. You’re going to start seeing conflicting rulings. And when you see that, the Supreme Court has a really strong motivation to get involved,” Smith said. “They want to get involved to sort of resolve any differences between these rulings; they want to have one common standard as they look at this mandate. And so I think the Supreme Court will either act or they’ll just make a quick decision that they just agree with the lower court rulings and go from there.”

Smith said he thinks using the mandate through the federal agencies that were used will be “too much for the 10th Amendment to bear.”

“When you add that argument to the other ones, it’s a pretty potent Constitutional argument,” Smith said.

“It basically says any powers that are not given to the national government are reserved to the state governments or to the people in those states. And by invoking the 10th Amendment, they’re basically saying that we historically understood states to deal with things like public health and public safety,” Smith said. “If you remember when the court has upheld vaccine mandates like the Supreme Court did recently in Maine, those have been state level mandates, not federal mandates.”